Her NYT column today contains this bit of sheer nonsense:
[Hillary Clinton] has told some Democrats recently that she wanted Obama to agree to
allow a roll call vote, like days of yore, so that the delegates of
states she won would cast the first ballot for her at the convention.
She said she wanted that for her daughter.
Memo to Maureen: there is always a roll-call vote, at every single convention, not just in "days of yore." Obama does not have the ability to "allow" or "disallow" such a vote, because it is the roll-call vote that will make him the nominee, as opposed to the "presumptive nominee."
Watch Obama’s speech (in particular the opening portion, about Hillary), and then watch Hillary’s speech, and tell me, which one of these candidates really wants the Democratic Party to be united?
Hillary’s claim that she wants the party to be united is, at this point, an utter and obvious lie. Her speech last night was sheer demagoguery, deliberately using rhetoric — about the "popular vote," about Michigan and Florida, about electability, and so forth — that will keep her supporters in a frenzy of anger and/or denial about the outcome of the election.
I said beforehand that it would be unforgivable if she made these sorts of arguments last night, and she made them, and it is indeed unforgivable. Absolutely unforgivable. On the very night when the party should have begun coalescing once and for all around its presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton continued to stoke the fires of intraparty civil war, instead of beginning of the process of standing down and backing off.
I’m not saying she needed to concede last night, but she needed to be gracious and conciliatory and valedictory, not combative and defiant and demagogic. She needed to explicitly attack McCain’s candidacy, not implicitly attack Obama’s legitimacy. She needed to speak the language of unity, not merely pay lip-service to it. She failed — she deliberately chose to fail — on all counts.
This notion out there that we should "respect" Hillary by not acknowledging the repugnance of last night’s speech, and of her recent campaign tactics generally, is completely back-asswards. It’s disrespectful to be anything other than repulsed, because such a reaction requires a belief that Hillary doesn’t know perfectly well what she is doing. To give Hillary a pass is to assume she’s a witless child, which she most certainly is not. She knows precisely what she’s doing — and it is the exact opposite of "uniting the party." She is willfully undermining her party’s nominee.
If you don’t believe me, just watch the beginning of John McCain’s (widely panned) speech, in which he made a blatant — and somewhat ham-handed, in my view, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work — play for disaffected Hillary voters.
McCain’s efforts in this regard, aided and abetted by Clinton’s rhetoric, are already bearing fruit:
[T]he RNC’s convention office in St. Paul has received numerous telephone
calls in the last few hours from people who identify themselves as
Clinton supporters asking how they can help Sen. McCain.
HillaryGrassrootsCampaign.com, an organization with upwards of
half-a-million supporters, announced today it is committed to breaking
ranks with the Democratic Party and supporting Senator Hillary Clinton
in the general election - regardless of her status as the party’s
will be more developments like these, and no matter what she says
publicly about "unity," Hillary can’t wash her hands of them. She created
this monster. If you tell people, over and over again (even unto the
very night that your opponent clinches victory!), that their votes aren’t
being counted, that they aren’t being "respected," that they’re
"invisible," and that their chosen candidate, despite having lost, is
the legitimate winner — no matter how untrue all of those things are
– many of them are going to start believing what you’re telling them.
Hillary’s dead-woman-walking "campaign" has become one giant Big Lie.
At this point, the only way Hillary can even begin to redeem herself is by aggressively countering this stuff — not merely by dropping out and endorsing Obama, which she will inevitably do at some point, but by explicitly walking back her combative, divisive rhetoric. She needs to passionately make the case to her supporters, particularly women, that Obama’s their man, and McCain isn’t. She needs to find a plausible way to openly contradict her past statements about "elitism," electability, the "commander-in-chief test," and so forth. She needs to be the one who convinces her supporters that Obama is really and truly the legitimate nominee, that the "popular vote" doesn’t matter, that nobody was "disenfranchised," that no one is "disrespecting" her "18 million" supporters. Above all, she needs to make perfectly clear that she was not robbed, that she lost fair and square.
She needs to do all this, irrespective of the fact that it will leave some of her most fervent supporters feeling "betrayed." She can’t use their fragile emotions as an excuse, because she created those emotions with her shameless demagoguery. (That’s what demagoguery does. That’s its whole purpose.) Like I said: she created the monster. Some of the damage she’s done is irreparable, which is why she can never fully be forgiven for her actions. But she can take a small step toward reconciliation by undoing as much of the damage as possible.
Somehow, though, I don’t think she’ll be walking back her rhetoric on any of these key points. Oh, she’ll make the case for Obama on policy, and argue that he’s better than McCain, for the sake of appearances. But, having planted the "she was robbed" seed in her supporters’ brains, she’ll let them stew about it, and she’ll tell herself that if they want to stay home — or vote for McCain — because of that, well, there’s nothing she can do. Like so much of what she says, that’s a lie. But maybe it’ll let her sleep at night.
Personally, I am not a Democrat — I’m an independent — and although
the portion of my brain that views politics as a sport can’t help
"rooting" for Obama (he’s exciting! he’s inspiring! he’s shiny!), the
rational part of brain, which governs my actual vote, is totally undecided
between Obama and McCain. Thus, my anger at Hillary is more based on my
internal sensibilities — about right and wrong, about proper and improper
behavior, and, above all, about truth and untruth — than on fear
of what she’ll do to Obama’s chances in November. And yet I’m pretty damn angry. So I
can’t imagine how intense the anger must be among committed Democrats who are 100% behind Obama. They have to be livid. At this point, she’s got be reaching Bush/Cheney/Lieberman levels of earned hatred, yes?
Oh, and as long as we’re talking about Hillary hurting Obama’s chances, check out this video clip that the Republican National Committee sent out last night:
This is Exhibit A, B, and C for why the unity ticket is wolf-face crazy. Can you imagine how much worse it would be if she were his runningmate?
UPDATE: Here’s another clip the RNC is circulating:
Now, the question is: Where do we go from here? And given how far we’ve come and where we need to go as a party, it’s a question I don’t take lightly. This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight.
[At this point, her supporters cheered wildly, and some chanted, “Denver! Denver!”]
But this has always been your campaign. So, to the 18 million people who voted for me, and to our many other supporters out there of all ages, I want to hear from you. I hope you’ll go to my Web site at HillaryClinton.com and share your thoughts with me[.]
As NRO’s Jim Geraghty writes, it’s fairly obvious where this path leads:
She wants people to visit her web site and help her decide what to do next.
Can you see what’s next? “I wanted to concede, but my supporters didn’t want me to.”
Luckily, Hillary’s “18 million” aren’t the only people who know how to use the Interwebs. So, I invite you all to follow this link, and give Hillary the advice she so desperately needs. For example:
Incredible. She justifies her continuing the campaign by saying that she finished the campaign. She doesn’t concede that Obama has a majority of delegates, let alone that he’s won. She repeats her bogus popular vote argument. She congratulates Obama’s campaign on its “achievements,” but barely musters a single good word about him.
I don’t know what the fallout will be, but at minimum, I’d say that anybody on her staff who cares about their party has a moral obligation to publicly quit and endorse Obama.
The more I think about it, the more it seems that Hillary’s entire speech was manufactured to rile up her supporters — instead of priming them to shift their allegiance to Obama. Yes, there’s a situation with Michigan and Florida. But is it really fair for Clinton to claim that her 18 million supporters nationwide have been made “invisible?” Who’s supposed to be the bad guy here, scary Howard Dean? Clinton is offering more fighting rhetoric. But the fight should be over.
Isaac Chotiner, who calls the speech “A Total Disgrace”:
[H]er speech tonight has been combative and petty (mentioning the states she won, saying the primaries ended in South Dakota, not Montana, claiming a popular vote win), with scant praise for the Democratic nominee. If Clinton wants people to believe that she cares more about the Democratic Party than her own career, she is failing badly.
I have no problem with her reminding people of her campaign highlights–or postponing an actual concession. But implying that Obama can’t win in November? Whether or not she believes that, she has no business saying it now. And suggesting that she’ll fight on until her supporters are no longer “invisible” and get “some respect”? What on earth is she implying there?
I probably shouldn’t write any more about this woman and her staff. Suffice it to say that I’ve found her behavior over the past couple of months to be utterly unconscionable and this speech is no different. I think if I were to try to express how I really feel about the people who’ve been enabling her behavior, I’d say something deeply unwise. Suffice it to say, that for quite a while now all of John McCain’s most effective allies have been on Hillary Clinton’s payroll.
The speech tonight was a remarkable one for a candidate who has lost the nomination, though not remarkable for a Clinton. It was an assertion that she had won the nomination and a refusal to concede anything to her opponent. Classless, graceless, shameless, relentless. Pure Clinton.
Her narcissism requires that she deprive her opponent of a night, or a second, of gratification or attention. And she has now won, in her Bush-like version of reality, 18 million votes. Her invitation for her supporters to email their suggestions to her website is pure theater, a way of keeping herself in the spotlight and maneuvering her delegates to demand a second spot on the ticket. The way she is now doing this - by an implicit threat, backed by McCain, to claim that Obama is an illegitimate nominee if she does not get her way - is designed to humiliate the nominee sufficiently to wound him enough to lose the election.
Either way, she is clearly intent on getting Obama defeated this fall if she is not offered the vice-presidency. And if she gets the veep nod, the way she has gotten it will allow her to argue that a November loss was not her loss. It was his. And she will run again in 2012.
She will not go away. The Clintons will never go away. And they will do all they can to cripple any Democrat who tries to replace them. In the tent or out of it, it is always about them. And they are no longer rivals to Obama; they are threats.
What Democrats needed from Clinton tonight, aside from at last CONCEDING to Obama, was to go after McCain with everything she had: this would have been a first step to pulling her supporters into the larger Democratic fold. Instead, incredibly, she chose to continue her veiled critique of Obama. Instead, incredibly, she chose to emphasize and repeat all of her lies: that she won the popular vote, that she has “more votes than any other candidate who’s ever run in the primaries”, and, most damagingly, insinuating that somehow, this election was “stolen” from her. We see, more clearly than ever, that this is not about defeating Republicans in 2008: it is, for her, solely about her own career.
If I had any respect for Hillary Clinton going into tonight, after watching her speech, it is now gone.
She is now running for a nomination that she has lost. She cannot win it. The game is over.
She is, however, clearly willing to put John McCain in the White House if she doesn’t get her way. Now, I don’t think she has the power to do that, but she seems to think that she does, and she thinks that is a legitimate negotiating tactic.
The most pathetic part of the speech was her appeal for fundraising dollars. Because of her own mismanagement, her campaign is millions in debt. She’s wealthy — she can afford it. But yet she asks her constituency, which she says is struggling to get by, to help her pay off her own debts.
Absolutely no class — and completely self-absorbed.
Obama won tonight and she still can’t concede. Take a flying leap. You lost. You nasty woman. She can’t decide what she wants to do, whether she concedes or not. So she wants people to email her and help her decide. … She’s just a nasty nasty woman. I’m so glad the Democratic leadership gave her space and her time to grieve. How’s that working for you?
FinneganOregon, a Daily Kos diarist:
I am sitting here listening to her speech this evening and my jaw has slowly dropped to the floor.
This woman has no class.
She deserves absolutely nothing. Not a f***ing thing.
The only dissenting voice I can find in the liberal blogosphere is Al Giordano, who says, “I think that Senator ClintonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s speech was fine. She didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t concede. (The Field didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect her to.) But nor did she declare that sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to go on a Kamikaze mission. … Everything is good. SheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s getting out. She just has to negotiate her terms. But she stopped short of starting an internecine Civil War in the Democratic party. And nothing in her tone or words indicated otherwise.”
Needless to say, I completely disagree. In fact, I’m baffled; Giordano must have been watching a different speech than I was. I think Dana Goldstein, quoted at the top of this post, is 100% right: “Hillary’s entire speech was manufactured to rile up her supporters — instead of priming them to shift their allegiance to Obama.”
P.S. See also Noam Scheiber.
“Thank you so much to South Dakota. You had the last word [sic; that would be Montana -ed.], and it was a good one.”
“I want to start tonight by congratulating Senator Obama and his supporters on the extraordinary race that they have run.” (She then proceeded to say some other nice things about him, battling through a few hecklers at one point. I couldn’t quite make out what the hecklers were saying, but I think it was anti-Obama.)
“And it has been an honor to contest these primaries with him, just as it is an honor to call him my friend. And tonight, I would like all of us to take a moment to recognize him and his supporters for all they have accomplished.”
“Now, 16 months ago, you and I began a journey to make history and to remake America…” blah blah blah
UPDATE: “You asked yourself a simple question: who will be the strongest candidate?” (Crowd yells “Hillary!”) “Who will be ready to take back the White House and be commander-in-chief…” Hmm, where is she going with this?
UPDATE 2: “Our campaign carr[ied] the popular vote with more votes than any campaign in history.”
Hillary Clinton just implicitly called the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party illegitimate.
Now she’s babbling about swing states. What a freaking creep.
UPDATE 3: Now she’s talking about “count[ing] every single vote!” Unbelievable!!
I don’t know why I’m continually surprised by Hillary’s shamelessness. Someone tell me again, why the HELL would Obama want to make this utterly contemptible woman his V.P.?
She really doesn’t know when to stop, or have any idea what she sounds like to people who aren’t either idiots or sycophants. This speech isn’t remotely conciliatory or valedictory. It’s a blatant attempt to undermine her own party’s nominee on the very night he clinches the nomination. Absolutely beyond belief.
UPDATE 4: I don’t want hear her say another freakin’ word about “party unity.” It’s like Loeb said: “Every time Mrs. Clinton claims she has a popular majority, she’s…making it that much more likely that her supporters will stay home in November. If she really wants a united party, she needs to stop.”
Clearly, she has made a conscious decision not to stop. Unreal.
Now she asks rhetorically: “What does Hillary want?” … “I want the 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard, and no longer to be invisible.” (!!!)
What does Hillary really want? She appears to want Obama to lose in November. That’s the only rational explanation for this speech, at this time, given in this way.
UPDATE 5: The crowd chants, “DENVER! DENVER!”
See?!? What did I tell you about rhetorical momentum?? This is exactly what I meant!! Using rhetoric like this, even now, she is creating a situation where many of her supporters will view not fighting to the convention as a betrayal! Now watch her use that as an excuse.
“Now, the question is, where do we go from here? … This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight.” The crowd goes wild. You know what decision they want!
UPDATE 6: She’s telling people to “go to her website” and tell her what to do!! This is the Ross Perot strategy — “I do what the volunteers want!” So she’s deliberately creating rhetorical momentum, so she can say that she’s staying in the race because her supporters demanded it!!
FINAL WORD: Hillary Clinton had one last chance, tonight, to exit the stage with dignity.
She missed it.
Wolf Blitzer, Wolf Blitzer says Barack Obama, Barack Obama is the presumptive nominee.
UPDATE: Here’s the video:
Fox News’s delegate count in the scroll at the bottom of the screen has Obama at 2,128 delegates, 10 more than the “magic number” — but he still doesn’t have a little check-mark next to his name, like McCain does. Not sure what’s up with that, or where they’re getting their numbers from. (Maybe the Associated Press?)
CNN, meanwhile, has Obama at 2,114 delegates, four away from securing the nomination. I think that means Wolf Blitzer, Wolf Blitzer will be declaring Obama the nominee at 9:00 PM, if not sooner. (By the way, yes, I still have cable at the moment. Long story.)
The Huffington Post has a running tally, naming names, and they claim he’s at 2,110 delegates, eight away.
Obama’s campaign says he’s at 2,108, ten away.
However you do the math, it’s clear that Obama will be able to accurately say in his speech tonight: “Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.”
Obama is now 12 delegates away from the nomination, without considering any “private commitments” or making any projections of tonight’s results.
That means he’ll definitely be able to declare victory as soon as Montana is “called” for him, even if South Dakota is still too close to call (or, for that matter, if it’s “called” for Hillary). Even a one-vote win in Montana gives him 9 delegates, and there’s no way he won’t get at least 3 delegates in South Dakota.
UPDATE, 7:22 PM: Now he’s 10 delegates away. CNN is quoting the same number. If he gets a few more endorsements, the mere fact of the polls closing in South Dakota may put him over the top.
UPDATE, 7:29 PM: CNN says he’s now within 7 delegates.
You know what would be hilarious? If Obama gets within 1 delegate of clinching, and then Donna Brazille — an undeclared superdelegate on CNN’s “best political team on television” — announces her endorsement live on CNN, thus putting him over the top. :)
UPDATE, 7:45 PM: Now 6 delegates to go, says CNN.
Obama will get at least 7 delegates in South Dakota unless his vote total is less than 41.66%. He’ll get at least 6 delegates unless his vote total is less than 38.88%. He’s essentially guaranteed at least 5 delegates, since he’d have to dip below 27.77% to get less than that, which pretty clearly isn’t going to happen.
So, assuming the exit polls do not suggest a West Virginia-style blowout by Hillary (i.e., in a range where a 73-27 victory is conceivable), the mere fact of the polls closing in South Dakota should add at least 5 delegates to Obama’s column.
That means that if just one more superdelegate endorsement happens before 9:00 PM EDT, South Dakota puts him over the top — even if Hillary wins the state. No need to wait for Montana.
Paging Donna Brazille!
UPDATE, 8:04 PM: CNN says Obama is 5 delegates away.
This appears to be based on CNN’s own independent reporting, talking to superdelegates. Obama’s own delegate countdown is stuck at T-minus 10, presumably because he wants pledged delegates to put him over the top.
The last 24 hours have seen an incredibly vigorous guessing game of, "What will Hillary Clinton say tonight?" Here’s the New York Times’s Adam Nagoruney’s take:
Mrs. ClintonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s aides said that, should Mr. Obama cross the line
Tuesday night Ã¢â‚¬â€ and be declared at least the presumptive nominee Ã¢â‚¬â€
their candidate would acknowledge his accomplishment, without going so
far as to drop out.
That seems quite likely to be true, but in my mind, the big question is, what will she say about her non-concession? Will she make a conciliatory, valedictory speech that’s basically mum on her next step, leaving things vague until tomorrow (perhaps at AIPAC) or the next day? Or will she present an affirmative case for her decision to stay in the race, which would almost certainly involve arguing again that "I lead in the popular vote and Senator Obama leads in the delegate count"?
If she does the latter, two major problems crop up immediately. First of all, if her logic is, in essence, "we’re tied, because he won more delegates and I won more votes," it’s difficult to understand what would change that logic between now and August. The core premise of her argument — incorrect and illegitimate though it may be — will remain in place indefinitely; nothing after tonight is going to change the popular-vote math, obviously. So it’s hard to see how "he has more delegates, but I have more votes" is an argument for staying in the race tonight but then dropping out later this week. If it’s anything at all, it’s an argument for going all the way to Denver. (Cue my argument about rhetorical momentum.)
Secondly, even if she does drop out later this week after reiterating her phony "popular vote" argument tonight, she’ll have already seriously damaged Obama by implicitly questioning his legitimacy as the nominee on the very night when the party should be starting to formally unify around him. Again, I quote Baltimore Sun columnist Paul Rogat Loeb:
Given the bitterness of so many Hillary Clinton supporters that the woman they thought would be America’s first female
president will not be, the more they hear the suggestion that Sen. Barack Obama’s
win is illegitimate, the more likely they are to bolt. If Senator
Clinton’s voters embrace the story that "a man took it away from a
woman," denying her a victory she deserved, they’re at risk of staying
home come November, or holding back from the volunteering and
get-out-the-vote efforts necessary for the Democrats to prevail.
why it’s so unfortunate that Mrs. Clinton continues to claim that "we
are winning the popular vote." Because that statement is a lie - and it
undermines every word she has recently spoken about the need for the
party to come together. …
Every time Mrs. Clinton claims she has a popular majority, she’s…making it that much more
likely that her supporters will stay home in November. If she really
wants a united party, she needs to stop, and the superdelegates need to
hold her accountable.
In my opinion, making this argument tonight, of all nights, would be absolutely unforgivable. And I bet she’ll do it.
In response to Hillary Clinton’s suggestion this afternoon that she’s open to being Obama’s VP, I would just like to reiterate my previously stated belief that picking Clinton as veep would be "wolf-face crazy…the kind of decision you make when you are drunk, and on cocaine, and on deadline, and on fire." (Hat tip: ESPN Page 2.)
As I put it then: "How can Hillary be on a ticket with
someone she has called an out-of-touch elitist who is unready to lead
from day one? Not that she’d have any shame about it, mind you, but the
constant repetition of those charges out of her mouth would
provide such a constant drumbeat of ‘gotcha’ moments that it would
totally eviscerate any electoral benefits such a ticket would otherwise
reap. Imagine the negative ads! ‘Even Barack Obama’s runningmate
says…’ NO WAY. Will not happen. Crazy." (If you don’t believe me, here’s a preview. Imagine how much worse this would be if she was his runningmate!!)
And that’s without even getting into all the other problems with such a ticket. It really would be terminal insanity. Again: "Picking Hillary is suicide. It a) gains him a sliver of her base that he’d have otherwise lost, and b) loses him the election."
Alas, as I wrote in that May 8 post, "the media will be absolutely obsessed with the notion of a ‘dream
ticket’ … and the Clintonistas, given their endless supply of self-centeredness, will be only too happy to add fuel to the fire." That prophecy is now predictably coming true. As a result,
I actually think Obama would be well served to announce his running
mate earlier than usual, just to prevent the inevitable
Clinton-for-veep speculation from consuming the entire summer, and from
further dividing the party when he finally gets around to rejecting
what many pundits (and Hillary supporters) will myopically see as the "obvious" choice.
Before the "healing" can truly begin, the last shot must be fired, and
that shot will be Obama’s choice of a vice presidential running mate
who isn’t named Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Mark Halperin echoes this point today, writing that "any delay [by Obama] in choosing a running mate will only bring rampant
speculation about whether he is going to pick Clinton Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and if not, why
not Ã¢â‚¬â€œ speculation so extreme it might warp and dominate the entire
process (and potentially create reams of critical and distracting press
for his eventual Veep selection)."
The earliest vice-presidential selection in the last 20 years was Kerry picking Edwards on July 6, followed closely by Clinton picking Gore on July 10 and Dukakis picking Bentsen on July 13. (Bush picked Cheney on July 24. Gore picked Lieberman on August 7. Dole picked Kemp on August 10. H.W. Bush picked Quayle on August 17.) Personally, I’d like to see Obama beat Kerry’s speed record. How does, oh, June 23 sound? Like I said before: rip the band-aid off quickly.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Barack Obama effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, based on an Associated Press tally of convention delegates, becoming the first black candidate ever to lead his party into a fall campaign for the White House. …
The AP tally was based on public commitments from delegates as well as more than a dozen private commitments. It also included a minimum number of delegates Obama was guaranteed even if he lost the final two primaries in South Dakota and Montana later in the day.
(Hat tip: Becky.)
My initial, gut reaction is that this AP report, which Team Clinton will inevitably describe as "premature," actually increases the chances of Hillary fighting on to the convention. I fear they’ll say a bunch of things this afternoon and evening that will make it harder to backtrack and drop out once "effectively clinched" turns into simply "clinched."
On the other hand, Mark Halperin says Hillary "underestimates…the number of her staff and top supporters who will not tolerate her campaign continuing beyond Wednesday Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and just how gravely they feel about it." He’s probably right, and I may well be wrong about the risk of the Clintons talking themselves into a continued fight. But beware of rhetorical momentum!
UPDATE: TPM’s Greg Sargent writes:
The AP is including over a dozen super-dels who privately indicated
to the news org that they will ultimately back Obama, should the
contest continue, but haven’t said so publicly. Not everyone counts
private commitments; the Obama campaign, for instance, only includes
publicly declared supporters in its super-delegate tally.
So this isn’t an official clinching of the nomination, obviously.
And indeed, it’s really a no-brainer that Obama has reached the magic
number when you factor in private commitments. It’s highly likely that far more than a dozen have privately signaled support for Obama.
And Politico’s Ben Smith weighs in:
Not to be a stickler here, but that’s not how this has been working,
either in our count or in in the Obama campaign’s. The commitments that
matter are the ones that are public. So the story is trivial: I think
you could probably get virtually all of the superdelegates at this
point to privately acknowledge that they’ll vote for Obama at the
So as far as the (academic) matter of deciding when exactly Obama
gets the majority, I’m going to stick with named supporters. Our count,
and the Obama campaign’s, leave him about 30 shy.
Meanwhile, Halperin puts up this graphic:
P.S. Here’s a lengthier version of the AP article, which is essentially a wrap-up of the entire race.
The debate rages over whether Hillary will concede tonight.
It appears that the confusion may turn on what the meaning of
"is" "concession" is, as Politico’s Ben Smith explains:
This morning’s report that Clinton would "concede" that she’s lost
the delegate race — and the campaign’s subsequent denial that she’s
conceding the nomination — triggered wide confusion.
But Clinton herself explained her position yesterday in Yankton, SD yesterday:
"Tomorrow is the last day of the primaries and the beginning of a
new phase in the campaign. After South Dakota and Montana vote I will
lead in the popular vote and Senator Obama will lead in the delegate
count," she said. "The voters will have voted and so the decision will
fall to the delegates empowered to vote at the Democratic Convention. I
will be spending the coming days making my case to those delegates.
Their responsibility not only to the Democratic Party but to our
country is to vote for the candidate who is best able to lead us to
victory in November and best prepared to lead our country into the
The theoretical case here is that — even if Obama currently holds
the absolute majority of convention delegates — the delegates can’t
cast their votes until August, and could change their minds.
So in theory, Clinton can concede that Obama — presently — has the majority, but maintain that he doesn’t have the nomination.
In practice, she’s pretty much out of options: He’s on the verge of
locking up the majority, and a bandwagon effect — which has already
begun to pull on her supporters — will only intensify.
But as Clinton choreographs her defeat, she’s outlined a two-step:
First conceding that Obama’s won the delegate race, then that he’s won
That makes sense in theory, but as Smith says, it falls apart in practice, unless her intention is to take the fight to Denver.
If she doesn’t concede — and I mean fully concede — very quickly after it becomes clear that Obama has wrapped up a clear delegate majority, there is no logical point until the convention at which it will make sense for her to fully and finally concede.
Moreover, as I said earlier,
the feisty rhetoric she’ll inevitably use to justify her non-concession
could create, perhaps unintentionally or half-intentionally, a sort of unstoppable rhetorical momentum
that would make it nearly impossible for her to concede anytime before
August 28 (the date of the roll call in Denver) without angering and alienating her supporters.
This is why I think the campaign either: a) ends this week (probably in the next 48 hours) or b) continues until August. And it’s also why Harry Reid’s plan
– telling superdelegates to wait a little longer — is such a bad
idea. This is no time for Obama’s people to be delicate and
deferential. They need to Clinton off the stage, now. This is their last, best chance to avoid a floor fight. It’s now or never.
If you don’t take her out tonight
She’s gonna change her mind
And I will take her out tonight
And I will treat her kind.
Kcatnd also speculates that Hillary will "bow out gracefully tonight once it’s clear Obama has
clinched it. Until then, it’s still a 100%-absolutely-not-conceding
tack." That’s a distinct possibility. This all may be nothing but tough talk, both to influence Montana & South Dakota voters and to try and prevent the superdelegate flood that would allow Obama to hit the "magic number" tonight. If so, I hope it has the opposite effect. It will, if these Democratic party "leaders" have any sense at all. To quote from another song:
No other road
No other way
No day but today
HILLARY CAMPAIGN EXPECTS 25-POINT WIN IN S DAKOTA, TOP SOURCES TELL DRUDGE… DEVELOPING…
[An] American Research Group
survey of South Dakotans [released today] shows Clinton leading 60 percent to 34 percent
among Democrats in the state. There have been few surveys of South
Dakotans this year; the last poll was conducted two months ago and
showed Obama with a 12-point lead, according to Real Clear Politics.
A new ARG poll of Montana voters shows Obama with a four point lead in Montana, beating Clinton 48-to-44 percent.
The new numbers are subject to some skepticism because they are so
at odds with prevailing notions about South Dakota in particular.
Electoral projection blog FiveThirtyEight.com predicts Obama will win the state by five points and calls ARG’s scenario "completely bats**t crazy."
FiveThirtyEight isn’t alone:
[C]ampaign officials for both Clinton and her
opponent, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, questioned the accuracy of the
[South Dakota] survey results…and urged news outlets
not to run them prior to the primary. …
While accurately reflecting some primaries in the
Democratic race, New Hampshire-based American Research Group has also
missed others, in some cases by substantial margins. ARG indicated
Clinton was ahead in Iowa, where she lost, and that she was behind in
New Hampshire, where she won. An ARG survey showed at 3-point edge for
Obama in South Carolina, where he actually won 55 percent to 27 percent.
On the other hand, ARG has been spot-on in some other primaries. I guess we’ll find out tonight whether they’re right this time, too, or whether this last-minute poll is indeed "bats**t crazy."
On Sunday morning, I wrote:
Assuming conservative projections of 22 pledged delegates in Puerto
Rico today, and 8 each in South Dakota and Montana on Tuesday, he needs
27 more delegates — out of 218.5 undeclared superdelegates and Edwards
The only question, really, is whether he’ll get those 27 delegates by the time he takes to the stage in Minnesota
Tuesday night, so he can declare victory then and there. I wouldn’t be
surprised if a bunch of supers declare for Obama within, say, an hour
after the polls close in Montana and Souta Dakota.
Now it looks like that’s exactly what’s going to happen:
Sensing an opportunity to shut down the nominating contest, Obama
campaign advisers said that they were orchestrating an endorsement of
Mr. Obama by at least eight Senate and House members who had pledged to
remain uncommitted until the primaries ended, and that the endorsements
would come the moment the South Dakota polls closed on Tuesday night.
Only one problem: the final polls close in South Dakota at 9:00 PM EDT (though polls in most of the state close at 8:00), but Montana’s polls stay open until 10:00. So if these supers are really going to "remain uncommitted until the primaries end," don’t they need to wait until "the moment the Montana polls close"?
Then there’s the Harry Reid theory, which is that the remaining supers should stay mum "until the final votes have been counted." That would mean Wednesday morning at the earliest. But I think Obama has the right idea here. As I wrote last night, I think there’s a danger of Hillary & co. talking themselves into continuing their campaign — or at least taking the "middle option" of suspending-but-not-endorsing — if the momentum of the moment doesn’t very quickly usher them offstage tonight.
Dragging this thing out further is not a good strategy for anyone who wants the campaign to end this week (which is the same thing as saying "end before the convention," because IMHO, it either ends this week or it ends in August). Tonight is the best possible moment to declare a definitive winner and be done with it. If you give Hillary a chance to dither and delay, she’ll dither and delay, and when the dust settles, she may well have fallen under the sway of her own (and Bill’s) "keep fighting" rhetoric. Far better to rip the band-aid off quickly. Forget about "disrespecting" the Clintons; first of all, they deserve it, and second of all, the pain of that "insult" will fade. The pain of a three-month battle en route to Denver, won’t. So, with all due respect to Harry Reid, he’s wrong. Once Obama is assured of 2,018 delegates, there’s no reason to delay, and doing so could prove grossly counterproductive. He should declare victory tonight, if he can.
Luckily, it seems I’m preaching to the choir on this; Obama apparently agrees with me. Here’s another take on his efforts to end it tonight:
With an expected late wave of support from congressional Democrats, Sen. Barack Obama appeared poised to secure enough delegates to earn his party’s
presidential nomination, perhaps even before the votes from the final
two primaries in South Dakota and Montana are counted Tuesday night. …
A Democratic source said at least five to 10 House members would
endorse Obama on Tuesday morning, at least 10 senators will endorse him
by the end of the day and an additional 10 superdelegates will also
endorse him during the day. That would assure enough delegates by the
end of the day to clinch the nomination.
Keep in mind, if the networks are able to immediately "call" South Dakota and Montana (based on exit polls) when the polls close, that’ll be 17 delegates right off the bat. Currently, by his own count, Obama is 39 delegates away from clinching an outright majority, so he’ll be able to declare himself the presumptive nominee at 10:00 PM — assuming early "calls" in South Dakota and Montana — if he gets 22 superdelegate endorsements between now and then. (That’s not including his first three supers today — Clyburn, Lalonde and Chappelle-Nadal — who are already included in the count.)
P.S. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza reports:
The three highest ranking Democrats in Montana plan to wade into the
Democratic presidential race as soon as the state’s primary is decided
tonight, according to a source familiar with the decision.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer as well as Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester
have agreed to all endorse the winner of Montana’s primary — almost
certain to be Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.)
– immediately upon the contest being called. The trio will be joined
in the endorsement by state party chairman Dennis McDonald and vice
chairman Margaret Campbell.
Politico’s Ben Smith writes that the Montana 5 are "likely to be part of a substantial wave that comes to Obama when polls close."
P.P.S. Pablano projects that Obama will win by 18 points in Montana, but only by 5 points in South Dakota. If that’s correct, Montana will probably be "called" right at 10:00, but there might not be a clear winner in South Dakota until late into the night, in which case Obama might want to pick up another couple of supers today (perhaps 24 or 25, instead of 22), so he can still declare victory at 10:00 or very shortly minutes thereafter. (He’ll want to do so before 11:00, certainly, lest Tim Russert go to bed before Obama’s victory speech!)
UPDATE: A potentially significant bulletin from the AP:
Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday that once Obama
gets the majority of convention delegates, "I think Hillary Clinton
will congratulate him and call him the nominee."
UPDATE 2: CNN clarifies:
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s is "absolutely not" prepared to concede the race
for the Democratic presidential nomination to Sen. Barack Obama, her
campaign chairman said.
Terry McAuliffe rejected as "100 percent incorrect" an Associated
Press report that Clinton is preparing to acknowledge that Obama has
the delegates to win the nomination Tuesday night as the five-month
Democratic primary process comes to a close.
Obama "doesn’t have the numbers today, and until someone has the numbers the race goes on," McAuliffe told CNN.
But that’s not much of a denial, or "rejection." He said "until someone has the numbers" — which could well be tonight! His bluster notwithstanding, the clarification is totally consistent with the earlier report.